Atlanta Gas Companies
Natural gas utility service in Atlanta can be confusing until you understand how things are set up in Georgia. The Natural Gas Competition and Deregulation Act (passed into law by the state legislature in 1997) turned local gas company Atlanta Gas Light into a "pipes-only" company.
That means that Atlanta Gas Light maintains and services all the infrastructure for gas delivery in Atlanta. Instead of having a local commission set utility rates, the law was designed to create competition between individual companies who want to sell you natural gas utility service.
Here's where it can get confusing: you get the same gas no matter which company you choose for your natural gas service. They're all "gas marketers." Atlanta Gas Light actually delivers the service to your residence.
If you're not picking a company based on quality, you're choosing exclusively on price. The Georgia Public Service Commission website has a complete list of Certified Marketers and their contact information.You can also visit the Atlanta Gas Light "Choose a Marketer" page.
If things were simple, you'd be charged for gas service purely on a per-therm basis. (Your high school physics teacher would remind you that a therm is equivalent to 100,000 BTUs, or the energy required to burn about 100 cubic feet of natural gas).
That's not exactly how it works, because all companies charge per therm plus a monthly service fee. They all like to quote a per-therm price depending on how much gas you actually use in a month; any low per-therm rates could be wiped out by a high service charge.
Also, don't be surprised by a monthly Atlanta Gas Light service charge that will be tacked onto your bill no matter which company you choose. Free-market competition aside, everyone has to contribute to a standard fee to maintain the pipes independent of the fluctuating cost of natural gas.
If you're moving into an apartment or house that's been previously occupied, try to get an idea of how many therms per month have been used by previous tenants or owners and use that number to estimate a number when shopping for service. The University of Georgia has published a helpful guide to estimating your bill.
Shop around for deals. Providers like Gas South (which sponsors the Atlanta Braves' stadium strikeout counter), Georgia Natural Gas and SCANA Energy advertise heavily and often offer rebates, gift cards and even Delta Frequent Flyer miles to new customers.
Fireside Natural Gas and True Natural Gas are smaller companies that have a reputation for low prices.
If you don't live in Atlanta proper, a company like Austell Gas may handle your distribution instead of Atlanta Gas Light.
Do your homework, compare prices, make your best guess and be ready to shop around again (with actual data about your own gas usage) when your contract ends.